What Are the Odds? Extremely Unlucky in Miscarriages and Infertility

I’ve always been the kind of a guy that likes to know the odds. I never bet, but when I go see a baseball game, I want to know what Vegas says about my team’s odds of winning. When I watch the weather, I want the percentage chance of rain. Heck, when I’m simply walking along with my wife, I tend to start conversations with the phrase, “So what do you think the odds are that…?” Most of the time, my wife humors me. On her days with less than pristine patience, she’ll roll her eyes and ask me to hold off on my latest inclinations.

Part of the reason I enjoy percentages, probabilities, estimations, and odds, is because the experts who set these odds often hit the nail on the head. In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the odds of a 15-seeded team winning the whole thing, are well, preposterous. Vegas would probably make the odds 10 million to one, mainly because it’s never happened. The odds of it snowing in Cancun on your honeymoon are absolutely ridiculous because that doesn’t happen either.

Our first miscarriage was a shock for both of us. We were both young and ignorant, blind to the possibility that the little heart would stop beating. But after the DNC and our getting a little thicker skin, we entered into our second pregnancy and I wanted to know, “doctor, in your professional opinion, what are the odds this works out?” In other words, what do the statistics say about a woman who can get pregnant but miscarries one time. This doctor assured us, that very similar to our first pregnancy, the odds of miscarriage were 10%. Well, unfortunately for us, the baby died. 0 for 2.

On to pregnancy number three. This time I debated sparing my wife from hearing the question, but I just had to know, “Doc, so what are the odds?”

“Well, you guys are in a little higher risk category because of your other miscarriages, but given that we have worked out some of your wife’s iron deficiencies, etc., I would say really good odds.”

“Give me a number.”

“Oh, alright, I’d say 80 percent.”

I thought that wasn’t too bad. If you take two times at 90% odds, and once at 80%, the probability that one works out is like, well, I’m not a mathematician, but there really good!

The baby died.

On to our fourth and final pregnancy, “Doctor, I really want you to shoot straight with me. What are the chances on this one?” She mumbled something about 50/50.

When our fourth baby died and we went on to embryo adoption, I wanted the chances for each and every embryo transfer attempt. They were, according to the doctor 50%, 50%, and 50%. But all the embryos either died or did not implant.

Let’s just say you had 7 chances at something, with 50% odds. Supposedly, our odds with the miscarriages were much better, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s say you took a coin and flipped it 7 times, what are chances that it lands heads 7 times in a row? Not very good. I’m guessing less than 1%. Maybe you’re good at math and can help me out.

Can you get any unluckier than us? I suppose it’s possible. But with our bad luck, I bet that the odds aren’t that high.

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  1. #1 by nickeecoco on June 13, 2013 - 8:59 pm

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had these losses. I can’t imagine the pain you both have been through with all of this. If you don’t mind me asking, where are you currently in this process? Are you still pursuing treatment? It’s hard not to feel very unlucky when tragedies like this occur; I do understand and can empathize with that.

    • #2 by eph525 on June 14, 2013 - 5:23 am

      I don’t mind at all. We have actually been told by a few different specialists that there is no hope for us to have any children biologically. We may try one or two more specialists the next time we go to the states. But essentially we have taken our doctor’s advice and have given up.

  2. #3 by swisswife on June 14, 2013 - 1:49 pm

    😦 so unfair. I’m so sorry.

  3. #4 by theempressandthefool on June 17, 2013 - 4:56 pm

    When you’re young, it’s hard to get over the statistical improbability of your own misery. It feels almost (to me) like the deliberate work of the conspiring cosmos. I think: I am the 1%. My whole heart goes out to you.

  4. #5 by elaaisa on June 18, 2013 - 2:29 pm

    I’m sorry. This is just so unfair. I also spend a lot of time calculating probabilities, even if it’s useless.
    I’m sorry about this but I love maths, so: I believe the probability of 7 events (assumed to be independent) to take place with 50% probability is given by the product of the probabilities of each event, so in this case 0.5^7, which gives a probability of .78%, so yes, less than 1%. Although in this case I would say it is hard to argue that the events are fully independent.
    I know you don’t write many details but, if you don’t mind me asking (and aware that it’s annoying when people try to find solutions for you), have you tried a Yale biopsy or some other test on the endometrium to check for implantation issues? Just wondering if it’s something you may want to ask if you indeed go see another specialist.

    • #6 by eph525 on September 3, 2013 - 8:17 pm

      I’m sorry I missed this nice note from you a few weeks back. No doctor or specialist has recommended that we look into a yale biopsy. I will do a little looking online and ask our doctor about it. Thanks, by the way, for doing the math for us!

  5. #7 by Wonderingwhy on February 3, 2014 - 3:29 pm

    I don’t know you… But just happened to google “unlucky to have 6 miscarriages” as that is what has happened to me… And here I am at your site reading your story. My condolences to you and your wife. I was wondering if my odds were as crappy as someone else out there. Evidently there are others out there suffering the same fate. There is just nothing anyone can say to comfort someone who has been through this. My heart goes out to you. I am 44…and have finally come to the conclusion that I cannot bear the pain anymore of another miscarriage. The hopes and then the let down is the worst roller coaster ride of my life. I totally understand your thinking. How can one couple be so unlucky? It feels like with the next pregnancy… I’ve got to hit this time. The pain of not hitting has now surpassed the desire to have our own biological child. I struggle watching those that are able to have families so easily… And wonder why???? Having gone through all the testing… Nobody has figured it out. A few hiccups with MTHFR… Tried Levenox and progesterone supplementation. Still no children. Consoling myself and my husband at times with the random articles of Childfree couples having more satisfying marriages. Many questions for my creator. Thanks for posting your story.

    • #8 by eph525 on February 5, 2014 - 1:35 pm

      Dear Wonderingwhy,
      I wish I could do more than I can by sending you a short reply. I wish so badly for people like you that this wasn’t your fate and that your story would change. I appreciate your warm understanding and your support. Thanks for your kind words. I pray you can find your way together with your husband and make the most out of life, even if childless. Thanks for writing.

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